Don’t hate me for saying this…

I know, I’m blogging a bit about self-publishing vs. traditional publishing a bit much, but it’s been an obsession of mine for the last few days.  I honestly find the whole debate fascinating.  Which way will it go?  Will publishers drop like flies?  Is self-publishing viable? And so on and so forth.

In all of this, there is one thing that has stood out to me. Multi-level marketing. Now, I don’t know about you, but I’ve been suckered into going to these meetings or parties, or whatever they are calling themselves nowadays, more than once. It usually stems from having a friend that’s doing it, and I don’t want to be rude by saying no. Yes, I torture myself.

They all have one thing in common: enthusiasm. But it’s not just a nice amount of enthusiasm; it’s a truckload, and they run you over with it.  They try to get you to get so hyped up about it that you’ll join up with dreams of being super rich and going on these company vacations on yachts in the Bahamas where only the top sellers can attend. Or a pink car. They also like to pull out copies of other people’s insanely huge checks and tell you, “this could be your name!”

When I read about all these success stories in self-pubbing, that’s kind of how I feel. Not because I don’t believe in their success, or that I’m not happy for them. I do, and I am. But go to enough of these MLM meetings, and you quickly become a skeptic on anything that remotely stinks of it. I’m being bombarded with all these stories of the now-wealthy authors that it’s kind of gotten to that point. The excitement has gotten so hyped and huge, and I see people getting carried away on that wave of dollar signs that I can’t help but feel that way.

I understand that self-pubbing isn’t MLM, and I’m not actually comparing it to MLM.  It’s the feeling and tone I’m comparing it to.  This whole campaign for self-pubbing sure is starting to sound like the same sales pitch. The enthusiasm has gotten to such heights that I simply can’t bring myself to not imagine the MLM marketing pitches or the Shady Preacher/Healer on the Pulpit scenarios. With shouts of “I’m a believer!” coming out of the woodwork, how can I not?

Let me also say that it has not affected my decision-making process, and I most definitely don’t blame anyone for their excitement. I would be excited, too, and I would probably be shouting it from the rooftops with them.  So don’t think I’m judging anyone. I still don’t know what I plan to do when I’m done with my wip.

I believe that many people are doing very well with self-pubbing.  I also believe that many aren’t. There are plenty of factors that determine why a self-pubber can or will do well.  The most important thing, and I think this holds true for self or trade published, is the writing. Right now, I’m just hoping I’m good enough to do well, whichever way I choose.

I hope all self-pubbers do well. Who knows, I might be one of them someday. I also want to be able to support myself comfortably as a writer—what writer doesn’t? But are writers riding that wave into a cliffside? Is it just too early to know what kind of long term success anyone will have? I’m sure if you asked the successful ones they’d tell you, “Well, at least I made money while it lasted, which is more than what someone that didn’t do it got.”  Which would be true, of course. Maybe these aren’t even viable questions.

I think it’s all this talk about money that is affecting my delicate senses. Writers want to earn a nice living, because it frees us up to write more, and it’s great to know there is hope for that, but have we lost some semblance of propriety in the process? Hard to say since money is an important aspect of life. We all gotta pay the bills. And it’s not like I’m not interested in knowing the details of how well they are doing.

I guess it’s just one of those things where you want to know but feel like it’s an incredible intrusion in someone’s private matters. We’ve always been taught that it’s impolite to ask. Now we are faced with a lot of people just offering it up, and we’re taking it all in, and then rifling through their underwear drawer.  When inappropriate suddenly becomes appropriate, I have a hard time switching gears.


Life 101
January 13, 2011 12:58 am

Hey Cheryl, This coin definitely has two sides. I'm a columnist for some newspapers in the south. I decided to put together a compilation of my work. When I shopped it around to publishers, none seemed interested. I decided to self publish. I printed 2000 copies @ $3 each. The book sells for $12 and I broke even within a few months. I did book signings at the mall and speaking engagements at any club or organization that would let me speak.I also found several gift shops, cafes, and locally owned book stores to carry my books on consignment. I've made money a pretty good profit considering that I didn't know squat about selling books. But I'm not sure I would have sold as many had I not talked it up in my columns that I write weekly. I'll be honest, if you self publish your success depends on energy and information. You need to learn as much as possible before your publish, and if you're not willing to do facetime, speaking, book signings, etc. you'll end up with a closet full of books. I've used social media, my website, and other alternative means to get the word out about my books. So, I'm not sure this is what you were after, but this has been my experience.Good luck no matter what path you take.Rick

January 13, 2011 1:20 am

Thank you, Life 101. I'm not really looking for anything. Most of these are just thoughts that I have and figure other people think about them, too. Or maybe not.But I think the distinction here is that self-pubbers aren't going the physical book route anymore. Most are e-publishing and POD. People rarely keep any more hard copies than they need for ARCs. PODs have broaden their scope so much that now people can walk into Barnes and Noble and special order an indie book. CreateSpace now allows you to put it on Amazon. For your local market, you would certainly have to print books but I think most don't do that anymore unless the book is specifically marketed to that area – like a book about the local history of a town.Marketing is still a huge factor, even when e-publishing, though and there is still a lot of time and effort that has to go into that. At the same time, most traditionally published authors have to do the same thing.The publishing world is just changing too much for me to keep up and I don't know why I'm even obsessing over it without a finished product! 🙂

January 21, 2011 12:55 am

You have looked into this more than I put in…Author Autumn Dawn started writing with an epub, then got a contract for two print books with a major house, then wasn't contracted for more books. She has large backlist of books. She went through those books herself when she got control back from the first epub, and offered them through a self publish (epub-smashswords I think) herself, and over the holidays made a large check for the first time. She chronicled some of her journey, and issues with Amazon and rejection letters, and posted the numbers for November and December. If you scroll through her old posts, she isn't sure what the outcome will be of all her work, but it paid off a little bit…I don't know if it will continue to pay out, and neither does she.

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Cheryl Murphy is Asian with brown hair in a single braid and a smirk.

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